News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Opinion Columns

December 13, 2013

RONN MOTT: Thanks to those who go ‘extra’ mile

TERRE HAUTE — Many an old movie will show you a newsboy … he’s standing on a corner or in the middle of a block yelling, “Extra, extra, read all about it!” He was at the point of what was America’s favorite technology, the daily newspaper, many times with more than one edition, a city edition, a near-city edition, and a statewide, or almost all statewide, edition. The paperboy was on his bicycle those days, every day of the week, slinging the newspaper to the porch and making sure everyone on his route got their daily paper.  

It rarely is a boy on a bicycle these days, and it is often a family effort with the father, and sometimes the mother, driving the car while someone else runs up to the porch or steps and leaves the paper. It has also changed that most of the leading papers are morning papers and delivers to you most of the news before the 24-hour television networks gain full steam and the majority of the population turns them on.

The daily paper, whether it’s the Tribune-Star or the New York Times, gives you more news than an average newscast does, and then some. It may not be “cool” or the leading edge of technology, and circulation may have slipped, but the newspaper is still what it says it is … a paper with many pages full of news, sports, weather and all kinds of information. And it’s being delivered by someone who is “up and at ’em” long before the crow flies in Terre Haute.

The newsboy, or paperboy, has given rise to people who have risen to high status in American life. It has always been a training ground for small business expertise. It was in 1913 and it is in 2013. It has even given rise to a Broadway show about newspaper boys called, “Newsies.”  

It isn’t easy doing this in rain, sleet or snow, but it doesn’t matter. The paperboy is on the edge of making sure the paper is successful.

My paperman, Barry, has never failed me. I have an overhang extending out from my front door and the paper is always there, protected from rain, snow and so on. I know that isn’t easy, but it surely makes me feel good.

I’ve been reading the Terre Haute newspaper since the second grade and I still, after all this time, enjoy picking up the paper and opening the pages to read while getting ready to take that first sip of coffee in the morning.

So my thanks to Barry and his everyday efforts and to the people at the Tribune-Star who keep the paper going. I know I have a very small, limited role in that, but I’m writing this as a reader. I appreciate all their efforts and especially the man who gets up and gets it to me before I need it in the morning.

I know I’m a bit old-fashioned, but to my paperboy, or paperman, I and many others are truly grateful for that “extra” mile.

Ronn Mott, a longtime radio personality in Terre Haute, writes commentaries for the Tribune-Star. His pieces are published online Tuesday and Thursday on Tribstar.com, and in the print and online editions on Saturday.

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